Celebrity Philanthropy

The New York Times, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal seem to be one upping each other to see how often they can write a story about philanthropy. Sweet!

Today the New York Times writes about how The Chronicle of Philanthropy decides whether or not to cover Celebrity Philanthropy:

When a portion of a celebrity’s paycheck or time — say, that of Angelina Jolie or Bono — goes to a pet cause, the effort is inevitably lauded by celebrity news blogs and tabloids worldwide.

But to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the sober voice of the philanthropy industry, the yardstick is much higher. As celebrity involvement in charitable causes has reached new levels, the trade paper, which tracks charities, nonprofit organizations and grant seekers, has had to set ground rules for when a star’s altruism rises to the level of news.

“I think there needs to be greater skepticism about celebrity involvement than I see in the media right now,” said Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle, who helped start the publication in 1988.

You can read the full article here. You can read/hear more from Stacy Palmer from the podcast I recorded with her about media coverage of philanthropy.

I’ve written in the past how much I learn from Tactical Philanthropy readers, so it was great to see regular reader Bruce Trachtenberg quoted in the article:

Bruce S. Trachtenberg, the executive director of The Communications Network, a nonprofit organization in Naperville, Ill., that works on communication strategies for the philanthropic world, said that the charity establishment has been growing more sophisticated in its dealings with stars.

“As long as people understand that once you want to promote yourself in a way that brings attention to the work you’re doing, you have to be willing to tell the whole story,” he said. “They’re giving some of their time and energy, and that could be part of the bargain.”

Mr. Trachtenberg said that even if celebrities do not donate their own money, their efforts often warrant recognition and scrutiny. “A celebrity endorsement that could bring in x number of dollars — that might be a valuable return to the organization,” he said.

I read on another blog that the amount of philanthropy coverage in the mainstream press was dropping off recently. I haven’t seen any data one way or another, but it seems to me that the coverage of philanthropy in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Times has gotten much more in depth and consistent. Philanthropy is no longer confined to the November “Special Giving” section. I think it is here to stay.

One Comment

  1. Curious says:

    I’m extremely curious that this a person can get a byline in the NYT, a paper of note, like this Cate Dody, and yet deliberately skew and infer that Angelina Jolie made remarks that could be construed as saying that she herself ‘gamely admits’ that her charity work is to deflect from her ‘colorful life.’ What?!!

    I am sorry, but I have to strongly object – and I’d like to object WITH you.

    Hopefully, you are someone out there that can clear up the record, and clear up these negative inferences about Jolie that Cate Dody is shamefully and slyly making.

    I am a fan of Angelina Jolie’s because I recognize a quality individual when I see one – and because I think she is an excellent role model for my children and all young people – she’s a great example of how one determined committed person can get things done, change and touch lives, for the better.

    Yet this self-same article that you quote from Ms. Dody, puts words in Jolie’s mouth and ascribes motivations for her accomplishments that are quite negative and denigrating, which she NEVER EVEN SAID!

    The most ridiculous aspect is that rather than smear Jolie herself, and just do the dirty work, this Dody person implies that it is Angelina who has ‘gamely admitted’ her charitable work (with refugees? with impoverished AIDS stricken children? her adoptions?)is motivated by her wanting to blow smoke and cover up her ‘colorful life,’ as Dody puts it.

    Excuse me, but WTF??!! I have read several interviews from the always articulate, and crystal clear Jolie, and i have never ONCE heard her describe her initial foray into her UN work, or adoption as such!

    Ms Dody has literally written science fiction. It is a LIE – and even more sad, this is actually in a paper of note. How far have we come that people can just pull things from whole cloth straight out of their ass in a newspaper like the NYT.

    I am saddened at the hits this young woman takes constantly – and not surprisingly they are almost always from other women, by and large. In the end it comes down to catty ridiculous behavior that is beneath us all. It helps no one. Ms Dody gets quotes and her piece gets read as a slam against Jolie, and blogs and other publications will write about Dody’s piece because they can slam Jolie in the process.

    Tell me? Does that really advance what you and Ms. Palmer do in the world?

    Does Angelina Jolie herself deserve this kind of treatment?

    Angelina neither said, nor did she mean what Ms. Dody implies she meant, and the sad part about it, is that Ms. Dody knows it.

    I am curious – since you have had discussions with Ms.Palmer, would you and she concur with Ms. Dody’s piece in the NYT in reference to Angelina?

    To tell you the truth, I found her piece not only lacking in substance and style, sections of it did not even make sense. Least of which was the section where she has Angelina Jolie negating her own motivations for helping the disadvantaged around the world.

    Considering how influential Jolie has been on the world stage, and particularly within and among the younger demographic in calling attention to Refugees, disadvantaged children in the third world, AIDS relief in Africa, and Darfur (as Ms. Palmer’s own organization’s polls state – though Dody did NOT reference this fact )- I am amazed that people would so eagerly seek to dismiss, or negate her influence.

    Surely you must know that this young woman takes hits from all comers for her family, and the way in which she has very unselfishly chosen to live her life (I don’t see Oprah donating 1/3rd of her income to charity – and yet Dody doesn’t mention that fact at all in her piece – it’s as if she goes out of her way to NOT say positive things about Jolie’s contribution, even when surprisingly enough, the very poll she references ranks Jolie as one of the most influential people in this arena.

    Yet she goes out of her way to not say it??

    How bizarre.

    Consequently, what we have then — the result of Ms. Dody having written such an NYT article that quotes Ms. Palmer, and implies Angelina is selfishly using charity to ‘deflect’ away from her ‘colorful life,’ is several other blurbs, blogs and pieces, on how ‘Angelina is NOT making the cut,’ and how she is using her charity work for cover. Basically Cate Dody’s piece on ‘Skepticism Regarding Some Fly By Night Celebrity Philanthropists,’ has become a vehicle in which to hurt the one who has demonstrated the MOST diligence, hard work and dedication!

    How is that fair? What kind of people do this?

    This piece has turned into an Angelina slam all over the internet.

    Great going ladies, one more kick in the head for Angelina by even more catty females trying to tear a great motivating powerful woman down.

    Only this time, it’s not just the tabloid trash rags in Walmart checkout aisles, it’s an author with a NYT byline, and her thinly veiled backhand to Jolie’s face.

    It’s a detriment to the very thing that you and Ms. Palmer are trying to do — and that is motivate me and others with the means to be motivated to help.

    This Cate Dody does it with Ms. Palmer’s possibly unknowing help, or so Ms. Dody implies anyway – so I’d like for you to get Ms. Palmer’s views on this latest piece and smear job on Angelina.

    At least attempt to rectify this b*tchy write-up. Angelina Jolie, for all that she does, and all that she is — a great role model…does not deserve this, and does not deserve to have hundreds of negative hits spawned off Ms. Dody’s vague slam against her in the NYT.

    It’s shameful.